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HEALTH ACTION NETWORK - ADVOCATES FOR BETTER HEALTH CARE SOLUTIONS

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This Week in Health Care Reform: July 14th, 2017

Senate GOP leaders tweak their health care bill – and the chamber’s legislative calendar; prescription drug prices break through the partisan logjam; and, a new bill seeks to shore up a critical Medicare program.

Week in Review

Senate Bill: As expected, Republican leaders in the Senate released the latest version of their health care replacement bill yesterday.  In seeking to secure broad support from its rank-and-file, the revised bill did away with some of the tax cuts that had been proposed in earlier versions of the legislation, while also including additional funding to combat the opioid epidemic ravaging communities across the country.  While it remains to be seen whether or not the revisions will be enough to win over the members who had expressed concern over some of the initial bill’s provisions, what was made immediately clear this week was that it wouldn’t be for lack of trying, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) announced that the Senate would stay in session for the first two weeks of its scheduled August recess.  Regardless of the outcome, though, there’s a growing appetite to find a bipartisan way forward that includes shoring up the struggling individual insurance markets.

Rx Prices: It turns out that out-of-control prescription drug prices aren’t just keeping health care leaders up at night, as Americans of every political stripe identify the issue as among the top health care priorities on which lawmakers should focus.  Despite the oft-repeated argument tying drug prices to innovations in the pharmaceutical space, the growing consensus seems to be one of questioning the practical value of these advancements if no one can afford them.  And, finger-pointing aside, experts continue to warn that the historic increases we’ve witnessed in drug prices and spending have set health care costs on an unsustainable path.


SNPs:
Last week, new legislation was put forward seeking to reauthorize Medicare Special Needs Plans (SNPs) in an effort to improve the quality of care for vulnerable beneficiaries living in poverty or with chronic illness.  The bipartisan bill, introduced by Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Sander Levin (D-Michigan), advances the House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee’s focus on strengthening Medicare through programs like SNPs, which are designed to help the program lower costs, improve quality, and increase access for patients.  In speaking of the need to protect SNPs, Rep. Tiberi said, “SNPs offer targeted, coordinated care to some of the frailest and sickest beneficiaries in the Medicare program.”  In reference to their bill, Rep. Levin pointed out that it “follows a number of recommendations from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to extend and reform these plans with the goal of coordinating care and improving quality for special needs populations."      

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We encourage you to stay involved as implementation efforts surrounding health care reform progress.  Visit the Health Action Network and be sure to let us know what's on your mind.


 

Spotlight

Rising costs have led to the gradual reshaping of our health care system – specifically, in the transition from traditional fee-for-service to more value-based care.  While, the concept of value-based insurance design (VBID) is not exactly widespread, it is gaining traction, helped along by the shared recognition that there has to be a better way.
                                            
                                            

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